Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT PROBLEM DOES IRV SOLVE?
Under the current system of plurality voting, a candidate can win without a
majority of the votes. In a 4-way race, somebody can win with as little as 34%.
This frustrates, rather than reflects, the will of the people, and it discourages
people from voting. IRV ensures that the winner has the support of the majority.
It solves the so-called "wasted vote" and "spoiler" problems.
WHO WOULD WE ELECT WITH IRV?
We recommend using IRV for elections to the six statewide, constitutional offices:
Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of the Commonwealth,
State Treasurer and State Auditor. Fairvote Massachusetts is not suggesting
that we use IRV to elect the Legislature.
DOES ANYBODY ELSE USE IRV?
Yes, the people of San Francisco use IRV for local elections, and the City of
Cambridge, MA, uses a similar system of preferential voting. Voters in Vermont
have endorsed IRV, and the people of Ireland, Australia, and London, England,
all use IRV. Robert's Rules of Order favors IRV, the American Political Science
Association elects its president via IRV, and the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences uses IRV to pick the Oscar winners.
IS THIS A PARTISAN ISSUE?
No. Republicans in Utah and Alaska support IRV, as do the Democrats in New Mexico.
Here in Massachusetts, IRV has the backing of Jill Stein (the Green Party candidate
for Governor) and Warren Tolman (a Democrat).
IS IRV CONSTITUTIONAL?
Yes. American courts have consistently ruled that IRV complies with the principle
of one-person, one-vote.
WOULD IRV CHANGE CAMPAIGNS?
Experience suggests that IRV tends to reduce negative campaigning. Candidates
want to win the 2nd choice votes of their opponents' supporters, and mudslinging
can backfire by alienating these voters. So IRV rewards candidates with both
strong core support and broad appeal.
IS IRV SIMPLE TO USE?
Yes. Millions of voters worldwide have used this system for decades without
problems. Mock elections in schools and senior-citizen centers prove that people
of all ages have no difficulty with rank-order voting, and most prefer it. It
really is as easy as 1-2-3.